Michel Maniaci (born 1976) is an American male soprano noted for his unusual ability to sing into the upper soprano register without using falsetto. Most men who possess this ability have it as a result of a hormonal imbalance or other physiological anomalies, but for some unknown reason Maniaci's larynx did not develop causing his voice to not "break" in the usual manner. This physical anomaly has given Maniaci the ability to sing in the soprano register without sounding like a typical countertenor or a woman singer. For this reason, professional vocal pedagogists consider Maniaci's voice to be unique among countertenors, and compare his vocal quality to the castrato voice of the past.
Castrato singers obtained their vocal ability to sing high as adult males due to castration as children. This practice ended however around the early to mid-19th century. Maniaci is like a castrato in that he does not sing falsetto, nor does he have a baritone/tenor/bass chest register, as countertenors do. Unlike a castrato, Maniaci is entirely physically intact and fertile. Typically women dressed as men play the higher castrato roles in opera today as most male countertenors can not sing that high. What makes Maniaci such a unique singer is that he can sing these high castrato roles in a style and sound like the castrato of old.
Maniaci is young but is quickly becoming an important presence on the international classical music scene having already appeared in lead roles at companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, La Fenice, and Opera North. He is known mostly for singing the works of Handel, Mozart and Monteverdi
- Paula Citron, Toronto Globe and Mail, Monday, Apr 28, 2008 - Idamante in 'Idomeneo' (Opera Atelier)
“It was a night of four debuts – …and best of all, Michael Maniaci (billed as male soprano), who sang with clarity, passion, and hefty sound as Nireno.”
- Brian Kellow, Opera News, July 2007 - Nireno in 'Giulio Cesare' (Metropolitan Opera)
"Concert (performances) so far have cast the Velluti role of Armando with a mezzo-soprano, but La Fenice took the fascinating option of using Michael Maniaci, a male soprano (not countertenor) whose technique and artistry vindicated the choice triumphantly and must take us as near to the original as we're going to get today without sacrificing a few unfortunates along the way. Maniaci has impeccable phrasing, excellent coloratura, a confident top and an effective stage presence. Matching him was Patrizia Ciofi's Palmide whose soprano grows in strength without any loss of flexibility or sweetness - their Act One duet (alas with phone obbligato in the cadenza) was exquisite."
- Francis Muzzu, Opera Now, May/June 2007 - Armando d'Orville in 'Il crociato in Egitto' (Teatro la Fenice) - Veja o video - clique aqui